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  • Spectacles

    Okay, I really like Max for this. This is a good discussion to have, and an especially nice conclusion to to come to. I judged Max harshly previously because some of what he said before seemed to hint at an aftertaste of duplicity to me, but I think if he sincerely believes what he’s saying now, he and Alison might actually be a good match for each other.

    • chaosvii

      And if not a good match, then still worthy peers all the same.

  • ∫Clémens×ds


    It’s really interesting how their theories about why the world can go bad represent the critical flaw in the other –who agree with it on a reasoning level but happen not to integrate it into their value core.
    Alison is dumbstruck tyrants might ever be a problem because “telling people she’s right and how to live their lives” has been her modus operandi since she took off the mask, and for Max’s part, albeit less ultimately world-threatening, he seems to be the guy to think his own self-expression is worth the few people it can alienate, hence why he’s more socially dominant than indulgent.

    Even though in the end, the two are pretty much the same thing.

    (If anything it proves they live in a webcomic universe where Donald Trump doesn’t exist –for Alison could not be this naive about how fascism might be a bad thing otherwise– and it sounds suddenly very utopic.)

    • Tylikcat

      “…since she took off the mask…”

      Oh, *that’s* when it started. *nods earnestly* Seriously, I gather that she might actually be getting better on this point. Which, I grant you, is a bit terrifying.

      • ∫Clémens×ds

        Well, she was a pawn of whatever authority was in charge of her before. Not questioning orders is sorta different to not questioning yourself, even if it serves the same oppression.

        • Tylikcat

          I’d love to better understand the relationship between the Guardians and their government handlers. I feel like some of the storyline with Furnace gave us some decent insight.

  • Asher Freeman

    Well, thinking about it, I think the two fall in line more than you’d think. The Stalins and the Hitlers put themselves at the top and tell people how to think, and in doing so, they draw a distinction between themselves and the common man. There, y’see? Both are perfectly true. It’s just a matter of seeing a vase or two faces.

  • Maplestrip

    Well, this conversation is going in the right direction :3

  • This guy is making me nervous…

    • Cuindless

      I’m glad I’m not the only one.

  • dragonus45

    I’m really liking Max’s position here.

  • Brian Leahy

    Interestingly this page reminded me of two Granny Weatherwax quotes, one for each characters position.
    “You can’t go around building a better world for people. Only people can build a better world for people. Otherwise it’s just a cage.” (Witches Abroad)
    “‘And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself’… ‘Oh I’m sure there are worse crimes-‘. ‘But they starts with thinking about people as things…'” (Capre Jugulum)
    So I guess the message is be like Granny Weatherwax, but we knew that already…

    • Weatherheight

      Oh, Granny Weatherwax, is there no conversation you cannot add something cogent and meaningful to?

      • The_Rippy_One

        Nope. Granny never failed to have something to say. It’s part of being a master of Headology XD

        She even had a very meaningful quip during her own funeral! and that takes some doing!

    • Orzahn

      You are awesome, R.I.P Terry.

  • Lheticus Videre

    At first I didn’t really get what he was saying in the last panel but…the thing she said causes “the bad stuff” kinda leads to the thing he said causes “the bad stuff,” doesn’t it?

    • Weatherheight

      In a real sense, you’ve got it.
      Not sure Brennan and Molly intended that irony, but then again they probably did.

    • Tylikcat

      I think you could make a reasonable case for vice versa, as well.

  • Pol Subanajouy

    I’m sure a lot of of people are going to be reminded of the Fitzgerald quote, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” I don’t know. I always did feel that quote had a lot of merit in that the world is full of contradictions and paradoxes that must be navigated. At the same time, like many people, if something isn’t simple it smacks of uncalled for and perhaps obfuscating complexity (a perspective that he said just a couple pages prior.) In my life, I find I’ve had to acknowledge both views.

    • RobotAccomplice

      Idk, Orwell would call that doublethink.

      • Thrice.Great

        doublethink is specifically something relating to indoctrination (read: brainwashing), not a measured philosophical response to contradictory ideas that both have value.

        I’d probably say this is more similar to moral relativism or paraconsistent logic.

      • The_Rippy_One

        no, Doublethink is specifically believing in 2 contradictory thoughts, which is a little different than being mindful of 2 dissimilar concepts – it’s the difference between believing both x and !x are entirely true, and being aware that both the concepts x and n (where n is !x-y) are things that matter, and trying to find a reasonable compromise.

  • persephone_the_wanderer

    Clearly, philosophy obfuscates everything; our pressing debates about, say, foreign intervention, health care, gun control, really anything, can easily and readily be resolved by slogans like “We’re all family” or “Freedom is what matters.” /sarcasm

    Whose freedom? Whose idea of family? What do either of these vague positions say about whether non-profit religious groups which provide health care to their employees should be required to provide contraceptive coverage? Or whether intellectual property should include gene patents enforceable across national borders? Or or or–

  • Philip Bourque

    He says it’s simple, but even as simplified as he’s made it, it’s still tied to some very complex things.Let’s start with this: what is freedom?

  • cyrano111

    “I know what’s right”: Like Ally in her Axiology class.

  • Max has super powers too. Panel two, ear disappears for aerodynamics and efficiency. Panel three, ear instantaneously appears when he needs to listen. 😉

  • Anna

    Allison has a cute nose.

    • Weatherheight

      And freckles
      As a guy once said while hitting on a dear friend of mine when she was at a party…
      “I love freckles – let me count your freckles…?”

  • chaosvii

    Look out ya’ll! We got an individualist in the house that hasn’t thought things all the way through!

  • JohnTomato

    Just skipped over the light banter of first date and went into the Dalai Lama deep waters.

  • Sergio Le Roux

    Ha! You didn’t see that one coming, Alison!

  • Nicolas Gagné

    That’s some pretty great dialogue. Very nice page.

  • yumtacos

    But you have to try really, really hard, and never visit Reddit ever again.

  • Eric Meyer

    But then you run into the issue of “Freedom from what?”- We follow laws, because that preserves our freedom to live without fear- but they restrict our freedom to take what we want or get rid of people who are getting in the way of our personal freedom. But then, if we were completely free to do whatever we wanted, we wouldn’t be free to be whoever we wanted, since what some others want is in direct opposition to our wants.

    In a way, the more ‘free’ you are, the more everyday violence you’ll have to put up with- that’s mostly because of nature and selection- those who do violence well survive, those who do not don’t- and so humans as a whole are a very violent race- that’s why we’re on top, after all.

    It’ll be a long time in a society lacking complete freedom before we as a species can adjust to the idea of cooperation above violence. But then, there’s other issues at stake there.

    An interesting look at this is actually the old Science Fiction movie “Forbidden Planet”- what happens to a species that evolved naturally in a violent world, but then sociologically evolved beyond violence as even a concept?

    • The violence comes under limiting others freedom (I’d phrase it as human rights rather than freedom), so MrSing’s point stands as an ideal, but like most ideals it’s the practical implementation that’s the problem.

    • MrSing

      A common misconception is that laws are ethical. They have a strong basis in being derived from ethics and morals, but the first priority of laws is to make a FUNCTIONAL society. A society where people can live in some sort of long term balance with each other. If you want to learn ethics, the law is a great starting place, but it’s not the end all be all.
      Furthermore, if you only value your own personal freedom, you don’t value freedom as a concept. Which is hypocritical. If you value freedom as a concept you will want the largest possible amount of freedom for the largest possible ammount of people. This can be accomplished, as I said, by having freedom in all ways accept for when it infringes on someone elses freedom.
      Getting rid of people or taking their stuff is limiting the total ammount of freedom and thus unethical.
      Violence only follows if you want to impose your own will on others, if you respect their freedom as just as valuable as your own there will be no need to resort to violence. Only in the case of defending that freedom from others or for others.

      • Eric Meyer

        That’s going into a Utilitarianist perspective- from an Objectivist standpoint, personal freedom above all is what allows you to then push for other’s freedom- Deontology says you have to consider everyone individually, etc. etc.

        Point is, not everyone thinks it’s moral to try to give everyone an equal chance at ‘good’.

        ‘course, ethics are a super complicated subject. I certainly don’t know what’s right.

  • “That’s all anybody really wants, is to be free.” From which I conclude that Max has never been homeless, seriously hungry, had a major chronic medical problem, or lived in a war zone.

    • Freedom in the carefree sense, which seems to be the ideal Max is expressing, pretty much presupposes having your needs covered, so rules out being homeless, hungry or in a warzone. Wanting those things not to be an issue if they are, is still wishing for being carefree, but indirectly/at a different level of abstraction.

      I was going to say having chronic health issues is different to the others and isn’t necessarily a bar to being carefree, but then remembered not every country covers health needs automatically and freely. If it does, then you can have major health stuff going on and not have it be an issue (nb, this is an individual thing, for me and for many other disabled people disability isn’t an issue we’d want ‘fixing’, but for other people it is).

    • MrSing

      If you are of have any of those things, you are not free to live your life like you want to. You are subjugated to your bodily needs and restrictions or by the violence of others.
      Being limited in freedom does not only come from the barrel of a gun or the bite of a whip. It also comes from the needs for survival.

    • Boojum

      Those are constraints, imposed either by oneself or much more often outside forces, human or otherwise.

  • Guest

    <3 They're having a real conversation 🙂

  • chaosvii

    And even if it were interesting, it still wouldn’t be, y’know, useful

  • Lance Allen

    Oh damn. Unless he’s playing her *really* good, he actually seems like a good match for her.

  • deebles

    Ah, the great libertarian vs socialist battle of political ideals.

    • Izo

      Except Alison isnt a socialist, even if she wants a more utopian ideal. She’s not willing to use force to subjugate others to ‘her’ way of doing things. It’s one of the things I really like about her as a protagonist. She’s socially aware, but not a bully about it and not abusive of her power. I like how Max believes you can both protect freedom of all, but also recognize that people are interconnected.

      • And yet she swore at Gurwara for pointing out limitations in her thinking, there was the ‘what’s wrong with you people!’ outburst when it became clear no one else had followed her thinking in the prisoner’s dilemma, the seething “We will ALL work together” that followed it, and all of that leads to a clear ‘Oh, shit, that’s me’ moment in panels 2 and 3 when Max talks about bad stuff starting when someone decides what’s right and starts telling everyone else what they should do.

        • Izo

          Except Gurwara tilted the playing field and changed the rules AFTER the experiment was over. He introduced an element into the experiment which was false – that whatshisname couldnt have a white stone since he took it away from him. Alisons solution was trying to get everyone to work together becaseu Gurwara had done something bullying and wrong. And there’s nothing wrong with Alison being annoyed that people around her were either not listening to the instructions or thinking of their own self-interest in a class where the dictator (Gurwara) was forcing things in a particular direction. She didn’t go around at that point and start threatening people. Max is describing things where he’s not introducing a false element in the first place.

          • Gurwara didn’t change the rules ‘after the experiment was over’, he changed the set-up from what he had led people to expect, but before they had made their choices.

            There was nothing ‘bullying’ or ‘wrong’ with Gurwara’s set up, it’s a teaching aid to allow him to demonstrate the practical failure of applying pure ethics with no insight into other people. It’s a lesson Allison desperately needed, and it succeeded beautifully.

            The only person trying to force their judgement onto others in the class was Allison.

          • chaosvii

            I think you got your timeline screwed up, he introduced the rules as the experimentation was still in progress, before any stones were selected.
            There’s no afterwards in which new rules were imposed, nor circumstances skewed, only discussion of the consequences of not understanding what the rules meant and insight into the individualist/apathetic/ignorant/collectivist/economic rationales which drove most of the class towards their respective choices.
            And while there’s nothing I find objectionable about Alison being hasty in her assumptions about others, it still doesn’t make Alison correct as she formed those poorly thought out evaluations and voiced them. Alison expressed a desire to have people do what she wanted, and didn’t take it well when she was shown that her desire was one that others won’t agree with for reasons that she can’t help but sympathize with.

            Even if Max isn’t describing a congruent state of affairs, DGillon appears to be claiming that Alison is capable of drawing the parallels between such circumstances and begin to revisit why she felt so angry when the fiendish snake of selfishness she accused others of holding in their hearts turned out to be the same warm companion of kinship that Alison knows to be a part of her own family life.

      • deebles

        The extent to which force is used varies massively between different branches of socialism, just as it varies between different branches of most other political thought. For instance, you have the modern Scandinavian social democratic model, where force does not play a major role, the focus of punitive systems is on reforming people (as she’s been trying to do with Daniel), et cetera.

        Evidence for my case:
        1) Her axiom of “we got this; we’re all in this together; I think it’s self-evident that we’re better together” etc.
        2) The nature of her current project, which is very much a collaborative, rather than an individual, effort
        3) Her (false) assumption about her classmates, that they would all pull together in the interests of the one being treated unfairly.

        To be fair, she’s not been really involved in economic debate. In a way, the whole debate is more about the classic question of human identity: do we see ourselves as individuals first, or as members of our various in-groups (whether families, friendship groups, species or whatever), and which do we put first?

        • Izo

          First off, please no flames to what I’m going to write. I actually am a Libertarian, but I am also socially aware, and I don’t think those two things are in conflict at all (since Libertarianism is all about freedom in order to produce a better society in the first place).

          This is something I try to explain to people OFTEN about one of the problems with socialism (and also why Alison is not a socialist). Socialism tends to eventually lead to imposition of ideals by force or collapse, and that collapse is faster the larger a society in which it is imposed upon. Largely because of how economics works, and how historically, most people are greedy and require a system in which that basic impulse will guide them (by their own choice, not be force or intimidation) towards benefiting society (usually because of a profit motive).

          I need to just respond to each element of what you said though, first.

          1) Democratic socialism doesn’t mean anything. Nazism was democratic as well (and in fact was socialist – the Nazi party was called the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (the word socialist was added because Hitler was, in fact, a socialist). Even democracy itself isnt a particularly good thing – republicanism is (and no I’m not talking about the parties – I’m talking about the political structures – democracy allows for mob rule for each decision, while republicanism (and representative democracy) requires laws to be on the books and for there to be some consistency involved, judicial review, debate, precedence, etc.

          2) Most scandinavian countries are miniscule (the combined pop of all Scandinavian countries combined is about 26million) compared to countries like the US (350million) or Great Britain (65million, although Great Britain is a parliamentary government which means there’s going to be some pluralism involving socialism as well, but not socialist domination of the entire political structure). It takes longer to have to force the smaller a society is, because of less of an initial difference in economic well-being between the people in the first place (also smaller amounts of money being dealt with – the GDP of an entire country like Sweden is about the same as even a small state in the US like New Jersey)

          3) ‘We’re all in it together’ does not mean socialism. The Founding Fathers believed ‘we’re all in it together’ as well when they fought the British for independence. But at the same time they founded a country based on individualism. The very nature of civilization itself is that a group is, almost consistently, more effective than an individual person, but you don’t lose your freedom just because you’re part of a civilization.

          4) Collaboration does not mean there’s no individual input and individual thought. She’s not FORCING her opinions on Paladin, and Paladin is not forcing her opinions on Alison. There’s compromise, debate, and rational discussion on what they’re doing, and at no point does it seem to be involving forcing others to move to their way of thinking, or taking from one group to give to another. If anything it seems more philanthropic than redistributive.

          5) Her opinions about her classmates isn’t really all that false – it’s just it was based on an inherently unfair set of rules set forth, which Gurwara immediately removed AFTER the experiment was over – the idea that one person (that male student, I forget his name) WAS going to fail automatically. As soon as the experiment was over, he rescinded THAT element of the experiment. For the most part, people DO pull together when they’re opposed by a large enough threat. It’s instinctual, and why civilizations ever managed to grow in the first place. Again though – there needs to be a balance – grow too large, and you have to force people to lose their individuality; don’t grow enough, and you won’t be effective.

          Which brings me to my point. Socialism is LARGELY about economics.
          Alison doesn’t bother with economics – it’s more just a philosophical line of thinking – utopianism. But she doesn’t know how to go about it because she won’t use force, and isn’t thinking about it in terms of economics (which is the main thing that tends to make socialist countries fail). It’s very possible to both respect individual liberties, while at the same time trying to non-violently convince people that ‘we’re all better together.’ It’s how capitalism works in general – people are greedy for money, but the system will reward that greed if they create a product which people need more than what the competitors are making. Everyone winds up getting what they want – the business gets money, the consumer get products at a better price, and the society gets jobs as the business grows from the influx of consumer spending, not to mention technological advancement as the competitors try to screw each other by making a better product to put the other person out of business.

          Alison does NOT use force to impose her will on others. It’s not only not her first choice, it doesn’t even rate at all. Her parents brought her up to not think that way. It’s why she’s such a commendable person. 🙂

          Again really sorry for getting all political. Please no flames.

          • You attack an alternate political viewpoint, then demand no flames? Really? I’m not going to flame you, but I will propose to you that expecting respect for your political views comes with a presumption of respect for those of others. And yes, by your standards I’m a socialist and proud of it.

            1) The Nazi Party? Really? That old cliche again? The Nazi Party was neither democratic nor socialist. It grew out of the ultra-right Freikorps and consisted of an alliance of far right and ultra-corporatist elements that evolved into an almost feudal structure. It used the trappings of democracy to gain power, then quickly moved to remove those who might oppose it. Study the history, not the labels, and you need to go back to at least 1919, and earlier for specific elements of party thought such as Aryan Christianity and Social Darwinism (which is about Society, not Socialism).

            2) You can’t talk about Socialism and exclude most of Europe. The UK, France, Germany and so on are just as socialist as Scandinavia. Socialism exists as part of our normal political spectrum.

            3) ‘We’re all in this together’ is where Libertarianism fails the individual in it’s inability to support state structures to support those in need.

            4) Allison and Paladin’s work on the Valkyrie initiative is Socialism in action, people coming together as a group to make society stronger in a way individuals could not and with no capitalist motive for gain. In many ways it meets the ideals of Libertarian Socialism.

            5) Allison accused her classmates of being selfish, without thinking to ask whether all of them had the liberty to make the decision she did.

            6) ‘Socialism is about economics’ No, it’s about making sure everyone can thrive, the flaw at the heart of your elegy for capitalism. This is where hard Libertarianism fails economically, being unable to accept the need for state support structures for people excluded from the workforce and the infrastructure of government required to run those efficiently.

            ‘Allison doesn’t use force to impose her will on others’ So what exactly was she doing with Cleaver and that wrecking ball? And her outspoken anger at her classmates for not choosing as she did in the Prisoner’s Dilemma? That would be force from any of us, from MegaGirl it’s far worse. Swearing at Gurwara? Force again. And Allison recognises that, as we see in her reaction to Max’s thoughts in panel 1, shown in panels 2 and 3.

  • Potatamoto

    The two aren’t unrelated, at least in my mind. Not the same, by any means, but one can easily lead to the other. When you have people that you feel, rightly or wrongly, that are opposed to you, and those people are part of a group, it’s very easy to begin to see all members of that group (even the ones who may not be opposed to you) solely as members of that group, and not just people, subject to all the same thoughts, vulnerabilities and impulses that all people have. I think it comes from the lower ape part of your brain, the one that wants to claim all the yummy fruit for yourself and your group, and chase all the other apes away.

    Anyway, once you’ve relegated your opponents to being nothing more than members of the Bad Group, the natural impulse born again out of that primitive, conflict-driven part of your brain that we all need to evolve out of, is to eliminate the Bad Group. You want to do that by forcing the members of the Bad Group to stop doing the things that make the Bad Group bad, or, worst case scenario, by getting rid of all the people in the Bad Group.

    Personally, I think that’s really the root of most, if not all evil. Giving into your primitive urges, the stuff we relied on when we all still had fur to get us through confrontations with unfriendly strangers. And it really is insidious…those primitive urges slink into play when we think we’re being rational. Next time you get into an argument with someone whose core beliefs you profoundly disagree with, when you start feeling all angry and frustrated and start raising your voice, stop. Think. Realize that you are now giving into the impulse that makes a chimp beat its chest, stomp the ground and bare its teeth.

    You’re not have a discussion or even an argument anymore, you’re defending your territory. And in this case, your territory is an idea. And you just want to chase all the other ideas away. You could be 100% right and your opponent 100% wrong, but it doesn’t matter, because you’re just trying to chase away a perceived competitor.

  • Zinc

    Yes, very close to present day. The big storm, which took place when Alison was still a fetus, was in 1991. Super powers started to appear when Alison was 14, and today she is in her early 20’s, so we are in the (early) 2010’s.


  • Iarei

    Her alternate universe’s timeline is only slightly ahead of our own. In her reality, the socioeconomic leveling effect of the emergence of super-powered youth enabled Bernie Sanders to become president.

  • FlashNeko

    Okay, Max’s last line assuages my fear that he was about to start pulling out Ayn Rand tracts.

  • Weatherheight

    My belief system says these two things are inextricably intertwined in their implementation. An understanding of the limits of me taking advantage of my freedom is directly affected by my ability to understand how what I do will impact others and how that will limit *their* freedom – and if I isolate myself from others, I’m not as able to correctly understand that impact. If I hold “Freedom” as a “Greatest Possible Value”, then the freedom of others should also be valuable to me. Freedom is a wonderful thing, but I feel it’s more complex than Max is holding forth on here. His final line is pretty hopeful, to me.

    I heard the “Sin is when you treat people like objects and objects like people” line in 1979 in a sermon. Terry Pratchett’s version was a wonderful surprise when I read it *years* later (I was a late-comer to appreciating Pratchett, for which I am properly contrite).

    Oh, and since I mentioned Greatest Possible Value – Big Sandwich!

  • Weatherheight

    “Be very careful when attributing to malice what can be adequately explained by ignorance or apathy.”

    Apathy (not caring what happens), =thoughtlessness (not stopping to think about something all the way through), and ignorance (not having all the facts) cause as much pain as deliberate or considered action. I’m always caught off guard when someone does something horrible because they just didn’t stop to think when they are normally very sensitive people. And nothing makes me madder at myself when I don’t stop to consider how what I’m about to do will impact someone else or I react without knowing all the facts that are important.

    And no, I don’t have a solution, but I am keenly aware of the problem…

  • Tylikcat

    *laughs* Now, really, more that than the framing of having the cocky straight white male from a financially privileged background lay down some classic libertarian principles?

  • Tylikcat

    So, um…

    …don’t most people run into the concept that there are values that are apparently good that are also sometimes in conflict with each other and practical need to be kept in dynamic balance at least by their early teens? I mean, I know that Alison had a weirdly sheltered upbringing. (And I know I had a weird education, and I kind of missed whole chunks of the teenage experience.)

    • I’m not sure most people do at all. I think I was definitely in my 20s before I really did, and that was in a job that kept throwing feedback loops at me to emphasise dynamic balance. And ISTR something was making me think about local optima, but I’m damned if I can remember what that was at the moment.

    • MrSing

      Kant isn’t as popular as he used to be.

    • chaosvii

      You’d be amazed how well people can avoid thinking about those conflicts of perspective or value with any level of success prior to age 20. Absolutist thinking is pretty heavily reinforced by stories, narratives on the news cycles, religious traditions, and most high school subjects. I was well into my mid-teens before that these complexities were even acknowledged by my thinking. Every time they came up before I just went into cognitive dissonance land where everything that would have been a pattern was merely an exception to the rule.
      Somewhere around the point that I dated way outside my demographic is when I had to deal with the fact that people that disagree with me bring different ideas to the table and have a life which culminated in those ideas. It was only then that I meaningfully looked into the reasons why these conflicts naturally occur.

    • ∫Clémens×ds

      How are the values “dictatorships are bad” and “sectarianism is bad” even in conflict

      • Tylikcat

        They don’t have to be, but as stated by Max and Alison (or elsewhere, but I’m going with those just to keep things simple) there are pretty trivial cases where they run into problems. Okay, it’s bad to tell people how to live their lives – but what about when those people are being assholes and treating other people badly? For probably the most obvious case.

    • Tsapki

      Not only a sheltered upbringing, but I think she spent most of her teens fighting super villains I think unless my timeline is wrong, so that may have messed with her education some.

      • Tylikcat

        Well, sure, but… she read, at least some, right? And didn’t they hang out and talk about this stuff? I mean, they were teenage superheroes – I would expect talking about the conflicts between things like freedom and equality would be super up their alleys…

        (Yes, I’m likely just betraying my own sheltered worldview…)

  • The Distinguished Anarchist

    I think I must be the only reader here that whole-heartedly disagrees with Max’s position. Unlimited freedom to just live how you want and be whatever you want to be? With zero responsibility? That’s what a child would want.
    And there’s more than a couple of very good reason why we don’t let children live that way. It’s because your personal freedoms are infringed on and constrained all the time as an adult. No, you aren’t free to walk into that bank and out with a few hundred thousand dollars. You aren’t free to punch that guy in the head because you think he looked at you funny. Part of the social contract you accept as a functional adult is that your right to do whatever you want stops short at your neighbors personal space.
    And he’s basically calling those things “unethical”…

    • It’s standard post-scarcity economics, explored in loads of SF works. I remember doing an online bookclub read of one of Iain Bank’s Culture novels, I think Player of Games, and one of the group, a socially conservative American, being absolutely horrified by the Culture’s post-scarcity society. Everyone else was completely up for it.

      Unlimited freedom doesn’t imply the right to punch someone else in the head at a whim, because that’s infringing their freedoms.

    • MrSing

      He also says that it is “messed up” to limit the freedoms of others. Imposing your own free will over others, like in the examples you are giving, is what he is talking about.

  • Stephanie Gertsch

    This chapter has felt very wordy, with a lot of characters discussing concepts, rather than focusing on the action. (Although there is a bit of action as well.) I like this page because while they honestly could be discussing a lot of things here that would fit the tone, what moves the story forward is the way the two characters offer each other empathy and understanding. They both seem pretty serious, but they both can go, “Hey, I wouldn’t have thought of it that way, but I like the way you say it.” It’s a moment of vulnerability where growth can take place, because they’ve shared time together and as a result both are willing to open up.

    I think you could leave the speech bubbles blank and I would still be able to get what’s going on.

  • Izo

    I really, really, really like Max.

  • When someone starts going on about the Brotherhood of Man I think of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmngcYQWfss&list=RDtmngcYQWfss 😉 (dating myself there).

  • Liberal, meet libertarian. Libertarian, liberal.

  • M. Alan Thomas II

    Don’t tell me how to live! I want to be an ethicist and live my life telling others how to live, and it’s evil of you to tell me not to!

  • RobotAccomplice

    Bull. Evil happens because humans are evil. End of story.

  • Jared Rosenberg

    This is so cute. Ms. Lawful Good: Alison meets Mr. Chaotic Good: Max. (Reference to the D&D alignment chart BTW)

  • Etveck

    Freedom is all well and good, but Feral has her freedom and chose what to do with it. I don’t think Max actually wants to deal with how complicated the world is. Good people suffer for others like Feral is meanwhile some, like Moonshadow inflict it on others and make excuses by claiming it was for the greater good.

    This is a world where Feral gets attacked for being different and then goes right back to sacrificing everything for people she doesn’t know. I don’t fault Max for it, but I feel there is a certain naivete that comes from (seemingly) not being involved in the world at the same level Alison is. This is what Cleaver was talking about when he was saying that not everyone is good, they wouldn’t know what it’s like have the ability to do what people Cleaver and Alison can.

  • Soqoma

    This date IS going pretty well

  • 3-I

    Man. Her eyeliner is friggin’ stellar. WAY better than his.

    Nah, that’s not fair, his is pretty good too. He just didn’t do wings.

  • TimG

    I’m surprised how positively the commenters here are reacting to Max’s moral philosophy. It feels very Ayn Randian to me. This leaves out any kind of moral obligation to do our part to help the less fortunate. That sort of thinking leads to a kind of extreme libertarianism, where things like government programs to help the poor are immoral, because they’re taking your “freedom” to spend your money where you want, and forcing you via taxation to spend it on helping others. And yeah, you can (as some of the commenters here do) define “freedom” broadly enough that it includes things like “freedom from poverty”, but that doesn’t change the fact that almost any kind of program to mitigate the effects of poverty is going to require a lot of money from the people who aren’t poor. So whose “freedom” are you going to pick?

    At any rate, it seems like this is setting up Max to ultimately be on the same side as Professor Gurwara, who seems to be building to a lesson that trying to make people do the right thing is the same as tyranny. It’s good that Alison is wrestling with these ideas, but I hope she doesn’t end up agreeing with them.

    • MrSing

      I’ll be frank. Any ideal taken to it’s logical extreme is a nightmare.
      Moral obligations to help the poor and your fellow humans can easily be spun into a scenario where people are slaves to “the greater good” and have no right to self determination. Just like how you said that “freedom” can lead to a ruthless selfcentered world.
      In a world like ours where there are limited resources, the criminal element, corruption. and wars no ideal can survive.
      This means that what manner of religion or goverment or lack there of you support is really just a context in which we place our deeds.
      What matters is how empathic and thoughtful we apply all these systems. That we always think about how our actions affect others in the long and short term and how we can make the world a better place that people will actually enjoy living in.
      The systems we conceive and adopt are an individual or groups best attempt at wording how we achieve a better world. But if the heart behind an ideal isn’t in the right place, it will be damned from the start.
      Ideals are great ways to focus your thoughts and efforts towards good. And some systems are more efficient and effective at doing this. But in the end they are just tools used by people. And the skill and intent with which they are used is mostly dependend on their wielders.

      • TimG

        I think you make a really great point. Whatever words we use to express our principles, if we don’t apply them with thoughtfulness and compassion, the end result won’t be good.

    • chaosvii

      I think they’re excessively appreciating the fact that he is neither close minded nor quite as bad as they previously expected him to be.

    • Whose freedom do you pick? ‘to each according to their needs, from each according to their means’ is a pretty good place to start.

  • ClockworkDawn

    All these debates going on in the comics go right over my head.

  • Izo

    No she does NOT use force to subjugate others. She uses force only to prevent others from getting hurt. That’s very different. She doesnt go for force every time she sees injustice, or Gurwara would have a hole where his head would be. So would Cohen. So would that pyrokinetic guy.

    She did used to be closer to that method of thinking though, far closer to the beginning of the comic, but it was never her go-to response except for that one time when she snapped with the crowd about Feral while under immense pressure and grief. And she immediately backed off from it.

    • So what exactly do you call leaving Cleaver hanging inverted and unconscious from a crane and wrapped in chain? He looked pretty subjugated to me.

      And I would absolutely class her outburst at Gurwara as force. Take it from someone who has faced discrimination, abuse and assault on the street, shouting obscenity at someone is force, and it can do far more damage than physical assault.

    • chaosvii

      I’m not disagreeing with your conclusion that Alison avoids subjugating others, but I will point out that “picking your fights carefully rather than imposing your will every time” is a very weak reoccurring element of your arguments.
      Choosing to impose your will some of the time rather than all of the time is not an important distinction to make. Listing all the times she chose not to be the world’s greatest tyrant is not a very good place to be nearby when you are attempting to make the point that Alison has a trend towards the judicious application of force that falls in the boundaries of overall public health as defined by a third party governing structure.
      Please discard this particular bit of rhetoric, as it doesn’t help you support the claim that Alison (almost) never meaningfully subjugates others so much as she turns them over to somebody else for a formalized legal confiscation of bodily autonomy. At which point the semantics of whether all law enforcement is to be defined as subjugation or not can be disputed.

  • OoO!

    Discussions about ethics make me a little bit annoyed. People present opinions that feel obviously wrong. They are obviously not obviously wrong or people wouldn’t be presenting them. It’s annoying, but since peoples ideas about ethics inform their political choices which largely determines the future of humanity. So I think I will join the discussion. 🙂

    I think it’s worth thinking about how we determine our philosophy of ethics.

    I have used the method of trying to invent scenarios where I would make a different choice than the one an ethical position proscribes thereby proving that the ethical position is not mine. Example: I posit that I hold the ethics “Though shalt not lie”. But when faced with the gun wielding man looking for my friend I would chose to mislead him. Therefore I do not hold that ethical position. I determined that I am a case by case consequentialist but using a different method maybe I would have arrived at a different conclusion.

    I would be interested to hear other peoples methods of determining their philosophy of ethics

    • chaosvii

      While I won’t do much in the way of outlining the systems I find useful, I’ve had trouble dealing with the coherence and/or applicability of any decision making system that isn’t consequentialist in nature. Divine command systems are particularly frustrating to discuss with someone who can’t observe the flaws when they are presented.

  • Pol Subanajouy


    • chaosvii

      Max didn’t use that exact word, but “bad stuff” tends to be the common usage of the term evil.